Friday, June 26, 2009

My first big break: Ford Times

In may last post I showed a sample painting that I had done, it was a western scene with a little old red Ford car. Jim Donahue, the owner of the studio that I was working at, Allied Artists, was very excited about the sample. He had a great idea, show it to the editor of Ford Times Magazine. Sure enough, Jim came back from his visit to Arthur Lougee, the art director of the magazine, and said that they bought the painting. They also said that they would buy everything that I painted providing I add a little red Ford in the picture. This was my first big break in the art business. Below is a profile of me that was printed in the magazine.

37-2 Ford Times 11 47 BIO

37-3 Ford Times 11 47
Here is a painting that I did without the little red Ford, it's a rendering done with colored inks, a medium that I frequently worked with at that time.

37-4 Ford Times 11 47

The above painting was done using Windsor and Newton Designer's colors and the one below I rendered with colored inks.

37-5 Ford Times 11 47
This was a real big break for me. I did a lot of work for Ford Times from 1947 through 1951. The exposure that the magazine gave me brought in many advertising assignments from new clients. I was a very busy fellow. Jim Donahue was a great salesman, he brought in a lot of work from the newly formed auto company Kaiser Frazer. I was also fortunate to work with a couple of other artists, the great Cliff Roberts and the wild Don Silverstein. Cliff and Don did a great deal of decorative and cartoon type work. I was the oldest at 19, Cliff was 18 and Don was 17 years old.

Cliff 2

Above is a photo of Cliff and below is a shot of Don in a wild mood. We were all fortunate to have been part of the Detroit commercial art scene at that time, there was a lot of work and tremendous opportunities for young artists. To see some of Cliff's and Don's great art go to, Cliff's art was posted on October 6, 2007 and Don's work was posted on January 25, 2008.

DON "painting"

Harry 2

Here's a shot of me at the time.


Vince A said...

Hi Harry,

What would be a reason why an artist would choose to use ink instead of Designer's Colors? For example, in the above two paintings, do you recall why you did one in gouache and the other in ink?

I have never used ink and I'm quite clueless as to their purpose.



Harry Borgman said...

Hi Vince,
When I was in high school I experimented a lot with colored inks and watercolors. I had never really worked with Designer's Colors. When I began doing the Ford Times paintings I was just starting to work with Designer's Colors and I suppose I felt more comfortable with the inks and a did some of the early paintings using that medium. Even when I started using Designer's Colors I used washes rather than use the paint opaque. Inks tend to be a lot brighter than other painting mediums which is probably why I was drawn to them in the first place.

Forever Jung said...

My name is Ben Young and I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago when I Googled Bob Shepperley’s name and it came up as one of the responses. I worked as a photographer in Detroit from 1961-1976 before moving to Battle Creek.
I met Shep when I naively made an appointment with him sometime late in 1961. I was working at a studio in the Marquette Building, shooting exhibits and conventions in Cobo Hall. Having just graduated from the Art Center School in Los Angeles I was most unhappy with the work I was doing and I found Shep’s name in the Advertising Red Book and made an appointment to show my portfolio.
At the time McCann’s offices were in the First National Building. I gave my name to the receptionist and settled in for a long wait, since there seemed to be an awful lot of other guys with bags similar in size to mine in the lobby and it looked like they had been waiting for some time. But in less than a minute his secretary, Joanie, was calling my name.
When I was ushered back to Shep’s office he jumped out of his chair to greet me, but then his jaw dropped perceptibly when he saw me. Clearly, I was not the Ben Young he was expecting to see. As it turned out he had just returned from a shoot on the west coast with Bloomfield Photographic and he had worked with a male model from New York while he was out there named Ben Young and they had had a great time drinking together (and Shep was particularly good at that aspect of the ad biz) and he assumed that was who had stopped to see him.
Being the good guy that Shep was he not only looked at my portfolio, which was completely lacking in automotive samples, but also invited Chuck O’Neil and Gary Souter in to look at it as well and then set me up with an appointment with Charlie Carson out at Bloomfield Photographic. Nothing materialized there, but eventually I wound up at Studio Place, working for Joe Skierski. That is a whole other story.
Did you know Doug Parrish or Glen Haverstock or John Spencer or Kenny Smith or that crew?
I enjoy your blog a great deal and admire your work. You are an immensely talented artist and an entertaining writer. Keep it up.

Harry Borgman said...

Hi Ben,
It's great to hear from you. I'm surprised that we've never met as I was pretty active in Detroit when you were working there. The names that you mentioned are all good friends which I worked with for years. Doug Parrish and Glen Haverstock have passed away, I don't know if Spencer or Ken Smith are still around. I wouldn't mind getting in touch with them if you happen to know where they are today. Did you know Charlie Schridde, an illustrator that turned photographer ? He's also an old friend that I still keep in touch with. Another guy that I still see is the photographer, Al Assid, he now lives in Texas and part of the time in Mexico. I worked in Detroit until 1977, then moved to Paris, France. In 1983 when I moved to NY I began doing some work for Detroit ad agencies like McCann, Doner and Wayne Alexander. Wayne also used me quite a bit when I was living in Paris.
Thanks for your comments and also for checking out my blog.

Amy said...

HI Harry,

I came across your blog today when I googled Arthur Lougee. Here’s the funny part … I googled him because I was researching a book I purchased on Friday, June 26, the same day you posted about him.

Turns out the book has some wonderful illustrations of yours in it. It’s the Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places.

Small world this internet is. Just wanted to share. Thanks. -amy

Harry Borgman said...

Hi Amy,
Thanks for stopping by, visit again soon. The internet certainly is an amazing place.